Saturday, March 27, 2010

Parliament - Mothership Connection (1975) (320)

Pretty much the quintessential P-Funk record in terms of electrobootylicious space funk, Mothership Connection was the breakthrough of George Clinton's mothership and his extraterrestrial freakshow. This record is chock full of classics, like the hit "Tear The Roof Off The Sucker", "Handcuffs" and "Mothership Connection (Star Child)". A necessary staple in any funk (or related) collection. Enjoy.

1. P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)
2. Mothership Connection (Star Child)
3. Unfunky UFO
4. Supergroovalisticprosifunstication (The Bumps Bump)
5. Handcuffs
6. Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)
7. Night of the Thumpasorous Peoples


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ultramagnetic MCs - Critical Beatdown (1988) (320)

We had some Large Professor big-ups earlier, so I figured props were due to his mentor, Paul C. This guy was one of the first to take sampling into the way we think of it today, innovating the "chop" and the "pan" and perfecting drum isolation in the late 80s. These days, folks make a lot of Dilla/Paul C comparisons, and I can't say I don't hear it. If your into the technology side of sampling, I suggest checking out David Tompkins' extensive history of Paul C and the exact techniques and gear that he hooked up, as well as about his work with Organized Konfusion, Large Professor, and, most famously, Ultramagnetic MCs.

Ultramagnetic MCs are fronted by crazy-ass Kool Keith, who was reported institutionalized shortly after the release of the group's debut, Critical Beatdown. I think that was just a rumor, but the whole group just rap beautifully about some random shit. More important is the production by Paul C and group member Ced Gee. Paul C's funky James Brown sample feature, "Give The Drummer Some", is seen as a turning point for mixing many samples smoothly and simultaneously. It is hard to believe it was only 1988 when this was released. The last six songs are bonus tracks that came out on the 2004 CD re-release. Enjoy!


1. Watch Me Now
2. Ease Back
3. Ego Trippin' (MC's Ultra Remix)
4. Moe Luv's Theme
5. Kool Keith Housing Things
6. Travelling At The Speed of Thought (Remix)
7. Feelin' it
8. One Minute Less
9. Ain't It Good To You
10. Funky (Remix)
11. Give The Drummer Some
12. Break North
13. Critical Beatdown
14. When I Burn
15. Ced-Gee (Delta Force One)
17. Bait
18. A Chorus Line
19. Travelling At The Speed of Thought
20. Ego Trippin'
21. Mentally Mad

Next Plateau Records, 1988
Produced by Paul C, Ced Gee and TR Love


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Big Star - Third/Sister Lovers (1978) (320)

Rest In Peace Alex Chilton
December 28, 1950 – March 17, 2010

A great songwriter and musician has died. Nobody brought jingly jangly power pop to the level Alex Chilton did, the innovator and Big Star frontman who passed in New Orleans yesterday of what seems to have been a heart attack. Unfortunately the group never achieved the commercial success one would have hoped for, especially considering the universally appealing, deceptively simple rock ballads and pop tunes which characterized the band throughout the 1970s. Third/Sisters takes the Big Star sound perfected (and I mean they're actually perfect records) on #1 Record and Radio City and makes it a little spacier, with more instrumentation and back-up vocals. That doesn't mean the group abandons its pop sensibilities on this record, but rather they expand it to include synths, strings, backup vocals and slightly more melancholy lyrical content. For balance's sake, there are a few heart-wrenching acoustic joints as well ("Blue Moon" will make you cry or wish you could). I'd say its probably the best record to listen to as we mourn Mr. Chilton and celebrate his legacy, though you should really get the whole holy trilogy, for the sake of your own mental health. Enjoy.


1. Kizza Me
2. Thank You Friends
3. Big Black Car
4. Jesus Christ
5. Femme Fatale
6. O, Dana
7. Holocaust
8. Kangaroo
9. Stroke It Noel
10. For You
11. You Can't Have Me
12. Nighttime
13. Blue Moon
14. Take Care

Rykodisc, 1978


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pharoah Sanders - Karma (1969) (320)

"'Trane was the Father...Pharoah was the son...I am the Holy Ghost."

Part 2 of 3. On Karma, the Son rides over a meditative, two-chord modal groove. Pharoah uses a smooth tone early on but doesn't shy away from abrasive squeaks and pitch-bending. I feel that he really bares his soul each time he plays the head of "The Creator Has A Master Plan". He's got the kind of powerful tone that really grabs you by the balls. It's such commanding playing. Just when you think you've reached some kind of zen about fifteen minutes in, shit starts to get crazy. A few minutes later Pharoah's primal wails are matching Leon Thomas' abstract yodeling. Heavy percussion and noise freak out. Just awesome. You might recognize some of the names on this recording from Coltrane's Africa/Brass sessions.


1. The Creator Has A Master Plan
2. Colors

Personnel on track #1:

Pharoah Sanders, tenor sax
Leon Thomas, vocal & percussion
James Spaulding, flute
Julius Watkins, French horn
Lonnie Liston Smith, Jr., piano
Richard Davis, bass
Reggie Workman, bass
William Hart, drums
Nathaniel Bettis, percussion

Personnel on track #2:

Pharoah Sanders, tenor sax
Leon Thomas, vocal & percussion
Julius Watkins, French horn
Lonnie Liston Smith, Jr., piano
Reggie Workman, bass
Ron Carter, bass
Freddie Waits, drums

Original Sessions Produced by Bob Thiele
Reissue produced by Michael Cuscuna
Engineer: Bob Simpson
Recorded at RCA Studios, NYC, February 14 & 19, 1969
Digitally Remastered by Erick Labson at MCA Music Media Studios, using 20-Bit Super Mapping

Impulse!, IMPD-153


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

John Coltrane - The Complete Africa/Brass Sessions (1961) (320)

"'Trane was the Father...Pharoah was the son...I am the Holy Ghost."

Thus spoke Albert Ayler. The more I think about this quote the truer it rings, which is why I'm making it the theme for my next few posts. This is Trane's first Impulse! album, and the first that I've posted featuring his soprano sax playing. Trane and pianist McCoy Tyner did the arrangements, turning the traditional English song "Greensleeves" into a showcase for soprano sax virtuosity and punchy horn lines. Eric Dolphy is featured here, another player who I believe influenced Trane's musical directions as Ayler did. Pat Patrick's here as well, best known for his tenure with Sun Ra. I've omitted the names of the French Horn players from the tags due to character limit. I need to get around to posting more of my Coltrane collection, but look for some Pharoah Sanders and Albert Ayler in coming days.


1. Greensleeves
2. Song Of The Underground Railroad
3. Greensleeves (Alternate Take)
4. The Damned Don't Cry
5. Africa (First Version)
6. Blues Minor
7. Africa (Alternate Take)
8. Africa

Booker Little, trumpet
Britt Woodman, trombone
Carl Bowman, euphonium
Julius Watkins, Donald Corrado, Bob Northern, Robert Swisshelm, French horns
Bill Barber, tuba
Eric Dolphy, alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet
Pat Patrick, baritone saxophone
John Coltrane, tenor saxophone
McCoy Tyner, piano
Reggie Workman, bass
Art Davis, bass on Africa only
Elvin Jones, drums

Original sessions produced by Creed Taylor
Reissue produced by Michael Cuscuna
Recording Engineer: Rudy Van Gelder
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ on June 4, 1961.

Photography: Ted Russell, Don Parent, Chuck Stewart
Art Direction: Hollis King
Graphic design: Jackie Thaw


Download Disc 1 (Tracks 1-5)
Download Disc 2 (Tracks 6-8)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Magnetic Fields - Holiday (1999) (320)

Although in recent years my tastes have been veering steadily away from the indie tinge which initially got me interested in collecting music, the magnificent hazy pop of The Magnetic Fields has remained one of few true constants of my last decade or so of listenership. It's hard to explain why I love them so much to people with otherwise compatible tastes to mine. It might be the darkly clever lyrics from Stephin Merritt, the bouncing synths and folky arrangements and everything in between, the queer sensibility, or their explicit love affair with concept albums and misery. Maybe it's just that they've been there for me, forever. Whatever it is, they rule.

Holiday is an album which I came around to track by track until I started playing it in my car for long rides to New Jersey and found that it really is a perfect road album. Songs to hook the first time listener might be "Torn Green Velvet Eyes" or "Strange Powers", with opening lines typical of Merritt's wacky analogy style: "On a ferris wheel, looking out on Coney Island/ Under more stars than there are prostitutes in Thailand". Pete and Pete fans will recognize the blurry synth loop of "The Flowers She Sent And The Flowers She Said She Sent", and I know more than a handful of people who might cry when "Take Ecstasy With Me" comes on at the right moment. The whole album is golden if eclectic, and it bears repeated listening. Maybe the Fields aren't for everyone, I don't know, but I'd like to press this record into the hands of everyone that they might get a taste for the greatest indie pop (ugh, the phrase even hurts to type) songs of our time.


1. BBC Radiophonic Workshop
2. Desert Island
3. Deep Sea Diving Suit
4. Strange Powers
5. Torn Green Velvet Eyes
6. The Flowers She Sent And The Flowers She Said She Sent
7. Swinging London
8. In My Secret Place
9. Sad Little Moon
10. The trouble I've Been Looking For
11. Sugar World
12. All You Ever Do Is Walk Away
13. In My Car
14. Take Ecstasy With Me


Luiz Eça & La Sagrada Familia - Onda Nova do Brasil (1970)(320)

This record is a real treat. Luiz Eça is an underrated pianist, once part of the Tamba Trio, who takes a number of Brazilian standards on a pop trip on Onda Nova do Brasil, or "Brasil's New Wave". A unique take on Jorge Ben's "Pais Tropical" is an early standout, as is the rendition of "Yemele". The pianist frequently takes a backseat to a number of talented vocalists and featured guests like Naná Vasconcelos. The record seems never to have been properly released in Brazil-- all of the available records were published in Mexico in the late 70s years after it was recorded. For this reason the band name and album name are widely recognized in Spanish as well. Regardless, Onda Nova is a gem which has gotten a little more circulation in the last few years and I was glad to rediscover it as Spring sneaks its way in. Enjoy!


1. Homem da Sucursal - Barravento
2. Pais Tropical
3. Juliana
4. Atras das Portas da Tarde
5. La Vamos Nós
6. Sequestro
7. Se Você Pensa
8. Sa Marina
9. Yemele
10. Please Garçon